The Chief of the Romanian Police, Liviu Vasilescu, announced on September 1 that he is resigning as head of the police after causing a public outrage by meeting with members of the Duduianu clan to discuss the funeral of their leader who had died in a hit. Vasilescu stated that he had followed all the rules and acted in good faith and that by resigning he wants to end the “press campaign” against the Romanian police and the Ministry of the Interior.
The leader of the Duduianu clan from Bucharest, Florin Mototolea (also known as Emi Pian), was attacked on the morning of August 4, on a street near the home of Richard Gheorghe Emanuel, a member of a rival gang. Mototolea later died in the hospital, as he was stabbed in one of his femoral arteries. The 39-year-old man was considered one of the most influential and dangerous gang members in Romania.
After the hit, the police patrolled the capital and its surroundings for days in order to prevent further attacks and the spread of mafia violence. The corpse of Emi Pian was held in the family’s home for a week, and hundreds of people attended the wake, breaking all sanitary and social distancing rules. The police monitored them from the street but did not impose any fines.
Under these circumstances, Liviu Vasilescu arranged a meeting on the night of August 9 at a nearby church with the Duduianu clan and several other high-ranking police officers to discuss the conditions of the funeral in order to avoid the spread of the coronavirus as well as further attacks and violence. According to the brother of Emi Pian, Elvis Pian, the former police chief asked the members of the clan to bury the victim as soon as possible.
The case became a national scandal a couple of weeks later, on August 25, when Adevărul newspaper posted a video of the night of the meeting between the police chiefs and the Duduianu clan. Since then, journalists have repeatedly asked President Klaus Iohannis if he finds it normal that the heads of police are in such a confidential relationship with a criminal gang and if he had considered calling for the resignation of the Interior Minister, Marcel Vela.
President Klaus Iohannis said at a press conference on August 26 that he had asked Marcel Vela for explanations and received them, but that it was not his role to explain in detail what had happened.
The next day, the police also held a press conference, stressing that the purpose of the secret meeting was to keep the citizens safe.
“It was an official operation of the Police with the goal of ensuring, by all legal means, the safety of the citizens. The approach chosen by us, and heavily contested by others, led to a good result, as we have no other victims, no photos with hundreds of people (at the funeral – ed. note), and no potential street scandals, which would have harmed not only the Romanian Police but the country as well. For me, the health and peace of the inhabitants of the Capital was more important than the fact that later my action could have been misinterpreted. We have taken an absolutely legal step to solve things, exactly at the right time and with maximum efficiency to protect the population,” the Romanian Police chief stated at the press conference.
On August 29, the General Inspectorate of the Romanian Police (IGPR) answered several questions about the meeting in a communique, stating that Liviu Vasilescu did his duty efficiently, solving a complicated problem and following all the written and customary rules of the institution. The General Inspectorate also stated that Liviu Vasilescu should not resign.
The press release was heavily criticized in the public sphere, including by representatives of the Europol Union, who claimed that the message actually slandered the police “in order to save the head of the Romanian Police.”
A couple of days later, on September 1, Liviu Vasilescu announced during a press conference that he was resigning and declared that there was “a media attack focused on the Romanian Police and the Ministry of Interior.”
“Both as commanding officer and also as manager, I did my job honorably and in good faith, professional integrity being the principle that has guided me throughout my career. I have noticed lately a concerted media attack against the Interior Ministry and against the Romanian Police at a time when the country needs peace and combined efforts to protect citizens. I have always assumed my responsibilities. And I have always liked surprises. So, please allow me to step down from the position of general inspector of the Romanian Police to remain a simple police officer and to carry out the tasks I will receive,” Liviu Vasilescu said at the press conference.
Title image: According to Liviu Vasilescu, the Romanian Police is under a focused media attack. Photo: Octav Ganea/Inquam Photos